Stonewall Vet Fred Sargeant Attempts to Erase Black & Trans Activists from History

Storme Delarverie

See, I, I, Stonewall, I don’t want… I shouldn’t start on this note, but it puts me in the worst light, because by the time Stonewall happened I was running my button shop in the East Village and for all the years of Mattachine and you see the pictures of me on TV, I’m wearing a suit and tie and I had spent ten years of my life going around telling people homosexuals looked just like everybody else. We didn’t all wear makeup and wear dresses and have falsetto voices and molest kids and were Communists and all this.

And all of a sudden Stonewall broke out and there were reports in the press of chorus lines of queens kicking up their heels at the cops like Rockettes, you know, “We are the Stonewall girls, and you know, fuck you police.” And this, I thought, you know, it was like Jesse Jackson used to say, rocks through windows don’t open doors. I felt this… I was horrified. I mean, the last thing to me that I thought at the time they we’re setting back the gay liberation movement twenty years, because I mean all these TV shows and all this work that we had done to try to establish legitimacy of the gay movement that we were nice middle class people like everybody else and, you know, adjusted and all that. And suddenly there was all this, what I considered, riffraff.

There is probably no other more clear evidence that the famous clip of Sylvia Rivera taking the stage at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in New York City in 1973 — Yes, the same event founded by Sargeant- where mostly white gay men and women shouted and booed her as she detailed the extent- and consequences- of her activism for gay, lesbian and transgender lives, rights and freedoms.

“Y’all better quiet down. I’ve been trying to get up here all day for your gay brothers and your gay sisters in jail….

Have you ever been beaten up and raped and jailed? Now think about it. They’ve been beaten up and raped…. The women have tried to fight for their sex changes or to become women…. they do not write women, they do not write men, they write ‘STAR’ because we’re trying to do something for them.

I have been to jail. I have been raped. And beaten. Many times! By men, heterosexual men that do not belong in the homosexual shelter. But do you do anything for me? No. You tell me to go and hide my tail between my legs. I will not put up with this shit. I have been beaten. I have had my nose broken. I have been thrown in jail. I have lost my job. I have lost my apartment for gay liberation and you all treat me this way? What the fuck’s wrong with you all? Think about that!

I do not believe in a Revolution, but you all do. I believe in the gay power. I believe in us getting our right or else I would not be out there fighting fr our right, that all I want to say to our people. If you all wanted to know about the people in jail — and do not forget Bambi LeMore, Andora Marx, Kenny Messner, and other gay people that are in jail. come and see the people at STAR house on 12th street, on 640 East 12th street between B and C, apartment 14, The people that are trying to do something for all of us, and not men and women that belong to a white middle class, white club, and that’s what you all belong too!”

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright

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